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      Holiday Joy For Israeli Soliders

      This Sukkot, holiday visitors to Israel will have a unique chance to say thank-you to IDF soldiers. Busloads of tourists will descend upon several frontline army bases for a Sukkot celebration.

      First Publish: 9/23/2004, 12:03 PM / Last Update: 9/23/2004, 12:47 PM

      This Sukkot, holiday visitors to Israel will have a unique chance to say thank-you to IDF soldiers. Busloads of holiday tourists and immigrants are scheduled to descend upon several frontline IDF army bases throughout the country – each bringing with them everything necessary for a Sukkot Holiday “Simchat Beit HaShoeva” celebration.

      The IDF Rabbinate Choir will provide entertainment for the festivities, which will take place in large IDF Sukkot (booths) set up on each base. In addition to singing and dancing together with the soldiers stationed at each base, participants will distribute thousands of holiday gift packages.

      The program is being facilitated by the Israel Center of the Orthodox Union (OU) and the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers (Aguda L’Maan HaChayal), in cooperation with the IDF Central Command Rabbinate.

      Four such events will take place during the intermediate days of the Sukkot holiday on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 4-5, in the morning and evening of each day. For security reasons, the army bases to be visited will not be announced in advance, but a busload of participants will be transported to each event. Participation is free of charge and open to the public.

      “Since many people from abroad are planning to be in Israel for the holidays,”
      explains Phil Chernofsky, Educational Director of the OU Israel Center, “we want to show them the side of the Israeli soldier that is a fellow Jew enjoying Sukkot, just like they do.”

      Chernofsky also sees the event as a unique opportunity to strengthen meaningful relationships that are “off the beaten path” of usual Israeli/Diaspora relations. “This is a chance for visitors to truly say thank-you to the thousands of soldiers who are spending their holiday guarding the Jewish people,” said Chernofsky. “We hope they will get to know one another – maybe exchange phone numbers or addresses, and keep in touch.”

      "Simchat Beit HaShoeva" is a unique celebration that takes place during the intermediate days of the Sukkot festival. In the days when sacrifices were offered in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, there was a special ceremony on Sukkot in which water was poured on the altar. The water was drawn the night before from the Shiloah spring, just below the Old City walls. The drawing of the water was done with great joy, singing and dancing. This annual event was called "Simchat Beit Hashoeva" - the "joy of the drawing [of the water]."

      Organizers say this is the first in what they hope will become a regular tradition of bringing together Jews from all segments of society, as well as from across the globe, to celebrate Jewish holidays together.

      To reserve a spot on one of the four bulletproof buses leaving from the Jerusalem OU Israel Center (22 Keren HaYesod), call:
      • From outside Israel: 011-972-2-566-7787
      • From Israel: (02) 566-7787